A Dog’s Breakfast
So. Dog food.
Talking with our friend Andrew the other day about our new housemate, we happened on the topic of shopping for dog food. He pointed out that to observe the marketing of dog food is, and I paraphrase here, “to enter a parallel universe where words have no meaning.”
Case in point: our first bag of dog food was Rachael Ray Nutrish Just 6 limited ingredient kibble. We have no great love for Rachel Ray (just say “Nutritious”, it’s not that hard a word!), but since dog food often seems to be an amalgam of every possible industrial food byproduct, it seemed like opting for a brand based on a limited list of common sense ingredients might be a good starting place. Unfortunately, the ingredient list for “Just 6″ dog food is not just six items long. It has 29 ingredients, most of which seem to be vitamin and mineral supplements or other chemical additives. Of the top six ingredients five of them are relatively recognizable, although weirdly one of these is “beet pulp” – apparently a byproduct of sugar beet processing. The sixth is “natural chicken flavor”, a term which in itself has little fathomable meaning.
As it turns out, Just 6 gets “mid-tier” rating over at Dog Food Advisor (did you ever doubt there were websites devoted to dog food reviews?), seemingly because a number of the ingredients are sort of on the sketchy side and the supplements aren’t processed in a way that makes them easy to digest. This is actually a better rating than the rest of the Nutrish line, which gets a below-average grade. So maybe they weren’t allowed to use the actual word “nutritious” for legal reasons.
So what are you to do if you want to feed your dog food made out of food? Some folks follow a “raw feeding” regimen, or the BARF diet (“biologically appropriate raw food” or “bones and raw food”). This approach seems like it has produced health and safety concerns, and anyway as vegetarians, we’re not excited about the idea of dealing with a bunch of raw meat and bones. But of course that’s for our benefit rather than the benefit of the livestock whose parts eventually make their way into Rachel Ray’s kibble as well. Plus it would probably be a lot more expensive.
So for now we’re sticking with kibble, but not with Just 6. I bought a bag of Nutro Ultra, which actually has almost twice as many ingredients than the Just 6, but apparently scores higher for nutrition. Tina’s planning on making her own dog biscuits, so at least we’ll know what’s in those.